Policy Resource

Rhode Island BrightStars QRIS

Feb 9, 2016

In 2005, Rhode Island Kids Count brought partners together to begin the conversation about creating a QRIS in the state.

BrightStars, the states quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is the result of four years of careful planning by an array of partners, including the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC), Rhode Island Kids Count, the United Way of Rhode Island, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Rhode Island Foundation, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, Rhode Island Department of Education and the Rhode Island Dept. of Health. BrightStars is managed by RIAEYC and has an annual operating budget of $250,000 from both public and private sources.

In 2005, Rhode Island Kids Count brought partners together to begin the conversation about creating a QRIS in the state. With start-up funding from the United Way, the partners formed a steering committee consisting of center-based, family child care, and school-age providers, parents, policymakers, and advocates. Ensuring that the design of BrightStars is based on research and the needs of the community, the steering committee then initiated a pilot phase in 2008, working with a random sample of licensed caregivers to assess how the QRIS worked when implemented. To further add to their learning about how to improve the quality of care, they also partnered with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina to evaluate the quality of center-based, family child care, and school-age programs throughout the state. Incorporating the information gathered through the pilot phase and through the evaluation work into the BrightStars design, RIAEYC began recruiting center-based providers to participate in January 2009 and officially the launched the QRIS at a community event in December.

BrightStars is formed around a framework of research-based quality elements, including group size, staff-to-child ratios, staff professional development, curriculum, and the learning context. It is a five-level voluntary QRIS open to both center-based and family child care providers, with licensing requirements forming the basis for participation, and other quality milestones serving as the markers for the achievement of higher levels.

RIAEYC currently offers program quality improvement bonuses and a participation incentive to programs participating in BrightStars, which help defray the costs associated with achieving higher levels of quality. RIAEYC has focused on outreach to parents through their redesigned website, worked to create a dialogue in the state about the importance of quality in early care and education programs, and launched their QRIS for school-age child care programs. Additionally, in 2012, RIAEYC approved Rhode Island’s Early Learning and School-Age Professional Development System Plan, developed by the council’s Professional Development Work Team. This plan is designed to support the adults who educate and nurture infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families, and those who work with school-age children in out-of-school time programs. The plan details the current landscape of professional development in Rhode Island, describes what an ideal professional development system should have, and includes recommendations to advance professionals’ skills and knowledge, to develop sustainable careers and ultimately improve child outcomes. Many of the recommendations included in the plan will be implemented through the state’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge program.

Read the full copy of the Plan

Updated December 2013

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